HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD SOMEONE TELL YOU that, though they’re not regular Sunday worshippers, they hugely value our church buildings as a space for silence?
I would hazard a guess that you’ll have heard those words at least as frequently as my day to day contacts illustrate a need for quiet space in all our lives … and in our worship.
How many more people would worship regularly in our churches if we didn’t crowd out the entire space with performance pieces of one kind or another?
People need quiet space, in churches, and in liturgy, because we need time to ask our own questions of God, and we need time (and quiet enough) to hear some answers.
I keep running back to Fr Timothy Radcliffe’s “What is the Point of Being a Christian?” when I need a ‘wisdom top up’. There’s plenty of wisdom and plenty of ‘quiet’ between this book’s covers …
Why doesn’t God just give us what we want: peace and justice and happiness for all?
Because He’s not “a powerful, celestial superman, a sort of invisible President Bush on a cosmic scale who might come bursting in from the outside”, suggests Fr Radcliffe (p.16): “God comes from within, inside our deepest interiority. He is, as St Augustine said, closer to us than we are to ourselves”.
So the sound of silence, and the consequent space for contemplation, needs to be granted equal status alongside (note, alongside, not without) “another round of Abba Father, please, boys and girls …”